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Teaching Reading

Goals and Techniques for Teaching

Instructors want to produce students who, even if they do not have complete control of
the grammar or an extensive lexicon, can fend for themselves in communication
situations. In the case of reading, this means producing students who can use reading
strategies to maximize their comprehension of text, identify relevant and non-relevant
information, and tolerate less than word-by-word comprehension.

Focus: The Reading Process

To accomplish this goal, instructors focus on the process of reading rather than on its

• They develop students' awareness of the reading process and reading strategies by
asking students to think and talk about how they read in their native language.
• They allow students to practice the full repertoire of reading strategies by using
authentic reading tasks. They encourage students to read to learn (and have an
authentic purpose for reading) by giving students some choice of reading material.
• When working with reading tasks in class, they show students the strategies that
will work best for the reading purpose and the type of text. They explain how and
why students should use the strategies.
• They have students practice reading strategies in class and ask them to practice
outside of class in their reading assignments. They encourage students to be
conscious of what they're doing while they complete reading assignments.
• They encourage students to evaluate their comprehension and self-report their use
of strategies. They build comprehension checks into in-class and out-of-class
reading assignments, and periodically review how and when to use particular
• They encourage the development of reading skills and the use of reading
strategies by using the target language to convey instructions and course-related
information in written form: office hours, homework assignments, test content.
• They do not assume that students will transfer strategy use from one task to
another. They explicitly mention how a particular strategy can be used in a
different type of reading task or with another skill.

By raising students' awareness of reading as a skill that requires active engagement, and
by explicitly teaching reading strategies, instructors help their students develop both the
ability and the confidence to handle communication situations they may encounter
beyond the classroom. In this way they give their students the foundation for
communicative competence in the new language.

Integrating Reading Strategies

Instruction in reading strategies is not an add-on, but rather an integral part of the use of
reading activities in the language classroom. Instructors can help their students become
effective readers by teaching them how to use strategies before, during, and after reading.

Before reading: Plan for the reading task

• Set a purpose or decide in advance what to read for

• Decide if more linguistic or background knowledge is needed
• Determine whether to enter the text from the top down (attend to the overall
meaning) or from the bottom up (focus on the words and phrases)

During and after reading: Monitor comprehension

• Verify predictions and check for inaccurate guesses

• Decide what is and is not important to understand
• Reread to check comprehension
• Ask for help

After reading: Evaluate comprehension and strategy use

• Evaluate comprehension in a particular task or area

• Evaluate overall progress in reading and in particular types of reading tasks
• Decide if the strategies used were appropriate for the purpose and for the task
• Modify strategies if necessary

Using Authentic Materials and Approaches

For students to develop communicative competence in reading, classroom and homework

reading activities must resemble (or be) real-life reading tasks that involve meaningful
communication. They must therefore be authentic in three ways.

1. The reading material must be authentic: It must be the kind of material that students
will need and want to be able to read when traveling, studying abroad, or using the
language in other contexts outside the classroom.
When selecting texts for student assignments, remember that the difficulty of a reading
text is less a function of the language, and more a function of the conceptual difficulty
and the task(s) that students are expected to complete. Simplifying a text by changing the
language often removes natural redundancy and makes the organization somewhat
difficult for students to predict. This actually makes a text more difficult to read than if
the original were used.

Rather than simplifying a text by changing its language, make it more approachable by
eliciting students' existing knowledge in pre-reading discussion, reviewing new
vocabulary before reading, and asking students to perform tasks that are within their
competence, such as skimming to get the main idea or scanning for specific information,
before they begin intensive reading.

2. The reading purpose must be authentic: Students must be reading for reasons that make
sense and have relevance to them. "Because the teacher assigned it" is not an authentic
reason for reading a text.

To identify relevant reading purposes, ask students how they plan to use the language
they are learning and what topics they are interested in reading and learning about. Give
them opportunities to choose their reading assignments, and encourage them to use the
library, the Internet, and foreign language newsstands and bookstores to find other things
they would like to read.

3. The reading approach must be authentic: Students should read the text in a way that
matches the reading purpose, the type of text, and the way people normally read. This
means that reading aloud will take place only in situations where it would take place
outside the classroom, such as reading for pleasure. The majority of students' reading
should be done silently.

Reading Aloud in the Classroom

Students do not learn to read by reading aloud. A person who reads aloud and
comprehends the meaning of the text is coordinating word recognition with
comprehension and speaking and pronunciation ability in highly complex ways. Students
whose language skills are limited are not able to process at this level, and end up having
to drop one or more of the elements. Usually the dropped element is comprehension, and
reading aloud becomes word calling: simply pronouncing a series of words without
regard for the meaning they carry individually and together. Word calling is not
productive for the student who is doing it, and it is boring for other students to listen to.

• There are two ways to use reading aloud productively in the language classroom.
Read aloud to your students as they follow along silently. You have the ability to
use inflection and tone to help them hear what the text is saying. Following along
as you read will help students move from word-by-word reading to reading in
phrases and thought units, as they do in their first language.
• Use the "read and look up" technique. With this technique, a student reads a
phrase or sentence silently as many times as necessary, then looks up (away from
the text) and tells you what the phrase or sentence says. This encourages students
to read for ideas, rather than for word recognition

Teaching Reading

Developing Reading Activities

Developing reading activities involves more than identifying a text that is "at the right
level," writing a set of comprehension questions for students to answer after reading,
handing out the assignment and sending students away to do it. A fully-developed
reading activity supports students as readers through prereading, while-reading, and post-
reading activities.

As you design reading tasks, keep in mind that complete recall of all the information in a
text is an unrealistic expectation even for native speakers. Reading activities that are
meant to increase communicative competence should be success oriented and build up
students' confidence in their reading ability.

Construct the reading activity around a purpose that has significance for
the students

Make sure students understand what the purpose for reading is: to get the main idea,
obtain specific information, understand most or all of the message, enjoy a story, or
decide whether or not to read more. Recognizing the purpose for reading will help
students select appropriate reading strategies.

Define the activity's instructional goal and the appropriate type of


In addition to the main purpose for reading, an activity can also have one or more
instructional purposes, such as practicing or reviewing specific grammatical
constructions, introducing new vocabulary, or familiarizing students with the typical
structure of a certain type of text.

Check the level of difficulty of the text

The factors listed below can help you judge the relative ease or difficulty of a reading text
for a particular purpose and a particular group of students.

• How is the information organized? Does the story line, narrative, or instruction
conform to familiar expectations? Texts in which the events are presented in
natural chronological order, which have an informative title, and which present
the information following an obvious organization (main ideas first, details and
examples second) are easier to follow.
• How familiar are the students with the topic? Remember that misapplication of
background knowledge due to cultural differences can create major
comprehension difficulties.
• Does the text contain redundancy? At the lower levels of proficiency, listeners
may find short, simple messages easier to process, but students with higher
proficiency benefit from the natural redundancy of authentic language.
• Does the text offer visual support to aid in reading comprehension? Visual aids
such as photographs, maps, and diagrams help students preview the content of the
text, guess the meanings of unknown words, and check comprehension while

Remember that the level of difficulty of a text is not the same as the level of difficulty of
a reading task. Students who lack the vocabulary to identify all of the items on a menu
can still determine whether the restaurant serves steak and whether they can afford to
order one.

Use pre-reading activities to prepare students for reading

The activities you use during pre-reading may serve as preparation in several ways.
During pre-reading you may:

• Assess students' background knowledge of the topic and linguistic content of the
• Give students the background knowledge necessary for comprehension of the
text, or activate the existing knowledge that the students possess
• Clarify any cultural information which may be necessary to comprehend the
• Make students aware of the type of text they will be reading and the purpose(s)
for reading
• Provide opportunities for group or collaborative work and for class discussion

Sample pre-reading activities:

• Using the title, subtitles, and divisions within the text to predict content and
organization or sequence of information
• Looking at pictures, maps, diagrams, or graphs and their captions
• Talking about the author's background, writing style, and usual topics
• Skimming to find the theme or main idea and eliciting related prior knowledge
• Reviewing vocabulary or grammatical structures
• Reading over the comprehension questions to focus attention on finding that
information while reading
• Constructing semantic webs (a graphic arrangement of concepts or words
showing how they are related)
• Doing guided practice with guessing meaning from context or checking
comprehension while reading

Pre-reading activities are most important at lower levels of language proficiency and at
earlier stages of reading instruction. As students become more proficient at using reading
strategies, you will be able to reduce the amount of guided pre-reading and allow students
to do these activities themselves.

Match while-reading activities to the purpose for reading

In while-reading activities, students check their comprehension as they read. The purpose
for reading determines the appropriate type and level of comprehension.

• When reading for specific information, students need to ask themselves, have I
obtained the information I was looking for?
• When reading for pleasure, students need to ask themselves, Do I understand the
story line/sequence of ideas well enough to enjoy reading this?
• When reading for thorough understanding (intensive reading), students need to
ask themselves, Do I understand each main idea and how the author supports it?
Does what I'm reading agree with my predictions, and, if not, how does it differ?
To check comprehension in this situation, students may
o Stop at the end of each section to review and check their predictions,
restate the main idea and summarize the section
o Use the comprehension questions as guides to the text, stopping to answer
them as they read

Teaching Reading

Using Textbook Reading Activities

Many language textbooks emphasize product (answers to comprehension questions) over
process (using reading skills and strategies to understand the text), providing little or no
contextual information about the reading selections or their authors, and few if any pre-
reading activities. Newer textbooks may provide pre-reading activities and reading
strategy guidance, but their one-size-fits-all approach may or may not be appropriate for
your students.

You can use the guidelines for developing reading activities given here as starting points
for evaluating and adapting textbook reading activities. Use existing, or add your own,
pre-reading activities and reading strategy practice as appropriate for your students. Don't
make students do exercises simply because they are in the book; this destroys motivation.

Another problem with textbook reading selections is that they have been adapted to a
predetermined reading level through adjustment of vocabulary, grammar, and sentence
length. This makes them more immediately approachable, but it also means that they are
less authentic and do not encourage students to apply the reading strategies they will need
to use outside of class. When this is the case, use the textbook reading selection as a
starting point to introduce a writer or topic, and then give students choices of more
challenging authentic texts to read as a followup.

Teaching Reading

Assessing Reading Proficiency

Reading ability is very difficult to assess accurately. In the communicative competence
model, a student's reading level is the level at which that student is able to use reading to
accomplish communication goals. This means that assessment of reading ability needs to
be correlated with purposes for reading.

Reading Aloud

A student's performance when reading aloud is not a reliable indicator of that student's
reading ability. A student who is perfectly capable of understanding a given text when
reading it silently may stumble when asked to combine comprehension with word
recognition and speaking ability in the way that reading aloud requires.

In addition, reading aloud is a task that students will rarely, if ever, need to do outside of
the classroom. As a method of assessment, therefore, it is not authentic: It does not test a
student's ability to use reading to accomplish a purpose or goal.

However, reading aloud can help a teacher assess whether a student is "seeing" word
endings and other grammatical features when reading. To use reading aloud for this
purpose, adopt the "read and look up" approach: Ask the student to read a sentence
silently one or more times, until comfortable with the content, then look up and tell you
what it says. This procedure allows the student to process the text, and lets you see the
results of that processing and know what elements, if any, the student is missing.

Comprehension Questions

Instructors often use comprehension questions to test whether students have understood
what they have read. In order to test comprehension appropriately, these questions need
to be coordinated with the purpose for reading. If the purpose is to find specific
information, comprehension questions should focus on that information. If the purpose is
to understand an opinion and the arguments that support it, comprehension questions
should ask about those points.

In everyday reading situations, readers have a purpose for reading before they start. That
is, they know what comprehension questions they are going to need to answer before they
begin reading. To make reading assessment in the language classroom more like reading
outside of the classroom, therefore, allow students to review the comprehension questions
before they begin to read the test passage.

Finally, when the purpose for reading is enjoyment, comprehension questions are beside
the point. As a more authentic form of assessment, have students talk or write about why
they found the text enjoyable and interesting (or not).

Authentic Assessment

In order to provide authentic assessment of students' reading proficiency, a post-listening

activity must reflect the real-life uses to which students might put information they have
gained through reading.

• It must have a purpose other than assessment

• It must require students to demonstrate their level of reading comprehension by
completing some task

To develop authentic assessment activities, consider the type of response that reading a
particular selection would elicit in a non-classroom situation. For example, after reading a
weather report, one might decide what to wear the next day; after reading a set of
instructions, one might repeat them to someone else; after reading a short story, one
might discuss the story line with friends.

Use this response type as a base for selecting appropriate post-reading tasks. You can
then develop a checklist or rubric that will allow you to evaluate each student's
comprehension of specific parts of the text. See Assessing Learning for more on
checklists and rubrics.

We update this page regularly. If you know of a resource that should be added, please
contact us.

• What Language Teaching Is

• Teaching Goals and Methods
• Planning a Lesson
• Motivating Learners
• Assessing Learning
• Teaching Grammar
• Teaching Listening
• Teaching Speaking
• Teaching Reading
• Teaching Writing
• Teaching Culture
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Teaching Reading

Strategies for Developing Reading Skills

Using Reading Strategies

Language instructors are often frustrated by the fact that students do not automatically
transfer the strategies they use when reading in their native language to reading in a
language they are learning. Instead, they seem to think reading means starting at the
beginning and going word by word, stopping to look up every unknown vocabulary item,
until they reach the end. When they do this, students are relying exclusively on their
linguistic knowledge, a bottom-up strategy. One of the most important functions of the
language instructor, then, is to help students move past this idea and use top-down
strategies as they do in their native language.

Effective language instructors show students how they can adjust their reading behavior
to deal with a variety of situations, types of input, and reading purposes. They help
students develop a set of reading strategies and match appropriate strategies to each
reading situation.

Strategies that can help students read more quickly and effectively include

• Previewing: reviewing titles, section headings, and photo captions to get a sense
of the structure and content of a reading selection
• Predicting: using knowledge of the subject matter to make predictions about
content and vocabulary and check comprehension; using knowledge of the text
type and purpose to make predictions about discourse structure; using knowledge
about the author to make predictions about writing style, vocabulary, and content
• Skimming and scanning: using a quick survey of the text to get the main idea,
identify text structure, confirm or question predictions
• Guessing from context: using prior knowledge of the subject and the ideas in the
text as clues to the meanings of unknown words, instead of stopping to look them
• Paraphrasing: stopping at the end of a section to check comprehension by
restating the information and ideas in the text

Instructors can help students learn when and how to use reading strategies in several
• By modeling the strategies aloud, talking through the processes of previewing,
predicting, skimming and scanning, and paraphrasing. This shows students how
the strategies work and how much they can know about a text before they begin to
read word by word.
• By allowing time in class for group and individual previewing and predicting
activities as preparation for in-class or out-of-class reading. Allocating class time
to these activities indicates their importance and value.
• By using cloze (fill in the blank) exercises to review vocabulary items. This helps
students learn to guess meaning from context.
• By encouraging students to talk about what strategies they think will help them
approach a reading assignment, and then talking after reading about what
strategies they actually used. This helps students develop flexibility in their choice
of strategies.

When language learners use reading strategies, they find that they can control the reading
experience, and they gain confidence in their ability to read the language.

Reading to Learn

Reading is an essential part of language instruction at every level because it supports

learning in multiple ways.

• Reading to learn the language: Reading material is language input. By giving

students a variety of materials to read, instructors provide multiple opportunities
for students to absorb vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, and discourse
structure as they occur in authentic contexts. Students thus gain a more complete
picture of the ways in which the elements of the language work together to
convey meaning.
• Reading for content information: Students' purpose for reading in their native
language is often to obtain information about a subject they are studying, and this
purpose can be useful in the language learning classroom as well. Reading for
content information in the language classroom gives students both authentic
reading material and an authentic purpose for reading.
• Reading for cultural knowledge and awareness: Reading everyday materials that
are designed for native speakers can give students insight into the lifestyles and
worldviews of the people whose language they are studying. When students have
access to newspapers, magazines, and Web sites, they are exposed to culture in all
its variety, and monolithic cultural stereotypes begin to break down.

When reading to learn, students need to follow four basic steps:

1. Figure out the purpose for reading. Activate background knowledge of the topic
in order to predict or anticipate content and identify appropriate reading strategies.
2. Attend to the parts of the text that are relevant to the identified purpose and ignore
the rest. This selectivity enables students to focus on specific items in the input
and reduces the amount of information they have to hold in short-term memory.
3. Select strategies that are appropriate to the reading task and use them flexibly and
interactively. Students' comprehension improves and their confidence increases
when they use top-down and bottom-up skills simultaneously to construct

Check comprehension while reading and when the reading task is completed. Monitoring
comprehension helps students detect inconsistencies and comprehension failures, helping
them learn to use alternate strategies.

Teaching Reading
Traditionally, the purpose of learning to read in a language has been to have access to the
literature written in that language. In language instruction, reading materials have
traditionally been chosen from literary texts that represent "higher" forms of culture.

This approach assumes that students learn to read a language by studying its vocabulary,
grammar, and sentence structure, not by actually reading it. In this approach, lower level
learners read only sentences and paragraphs generated by textbook writers and
instructors. The reading of authentic materials is limited to the works of great authors and
reserved for upper level students who have developed the language skills needed to read

The communicative approach to language teaching has given instructors a different

understanding of the role of reading in the language classroom and the types of texts that
can be used in instruction. When the goal of instruction is communicative competence,
everyday materials such as train schedules, newspaper articles, and travel and tourism
Web sites become appropriate classroom materials, because reading them is one way
communicative competence is developed. Instruction in reading and reading practice thus
become essential parts of language teaching at every level.

Reading Purpose and Reading Comprehension

Reading is an activity with a purpose. A person may read in order to gain information or
verify existing knowledge, or in order to critique a writer's ideas or writing style. A
person may also read for enjoyment, or to enhance knowledge of the language being read.
The purpose(s) for reading guide the reader's selection of texts.

The purpose for reading also determines the appropriate approach to reading
comprehension. A person who needs to know whether she can afford to eat at a particular
restaurant needs to comprehend the pricing information provided on the menu, but does
not need to recognize the name of every appetizer listed. A person reading poetry for
enjoyment needs to recognize the words the poet uses and the ways they are put together,
but does not need to identify main idea and supporting details. However, a person using a
scientific article to support an opinion needs to know the vocabulary that is used,
understand the facts and cause-effect sequences that are presented, and recognize ideas
that are presented as hypotheses and givens.

Reading research shows that good readers

• Read extensively
• Integrate information in the text with existing knowledge
• Have a flexible reading style, depending on what they are reading
• Are motivated
• Rely on different skills interacting: perceptual processing, phonemic processing,
• Read for a purpose; reading serves a function

Reading as a Process

Reading is an interactive process that goes on between the reader and the text, resulting in
comprehension. The text presents letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs that encode
meaning. The reader uses knowledge, skills, and strategies to determine what that
meaning is.

Reader knowledge, skills, and strategies include

• Linguistic competence: the ability to recognize the elements of the writing

system; knowledge of vocabulary; knowledge of how words are structured into
• Discourse competence: knowledge of discourse markers and how they connect
parts of the text to one another
• Sociolinguistic competence: knowledge about different types of texts and their
usual structure and content
• Strategic competence: the ability to use top-down strategies (see Strategies for
Developing Reading Skills for descriptions), as well as knowledge of the
language (a bottom-up strategy)

The purpose(s) for reading and the type of text determine the specific knowledge, skills,
and strategies that readers need to apply to achieve comprehension. Reading
comprehension is thus much more than decoding. Reading comprehension results when
the reader knows which skills and strategies are appropriate for the type of text, and
understands how to apply them to accomplish the reading purpose.

Section Contents

Goals and Techniques for Teaching Reading

Strategies for Developing Reading Skills
Developing Reading Activities
Using Textbook Reading Activities
Assessing Reading Proficiency

Material for this section was drawn from “Reading in the beginning and intermediate
college foreign language class” by Heidi Byrnes, in Modules for the professional
preparation of teaching assistants in foreign languages (Grace Stovall Burkart, ed.;
Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics, 1998)


Reading is basic in all academic disciplines (White, 2004). Good comprehenders are
knowledgeable and strategic readers (Anmarkrud and Braten, 2007). College student
graduates are not necessarily good readers. Even though college students are reading
advanced academic material, it does not mean that they always comprehend the
information (Taraban, et al., 2000). In most public schools, reading instruction often ends
in the fifth or sixth grade (White, 2004).

Although students spend the majority of their time reading and studying, college-level
courses do not put an emphasis on reading comprehension (Shaw, 1999). Many
instructors believe that students already possess the skills needed to succeed, and those
who do not believe it is possible to teach the required skills at the college level (Sherfield
et al., 2005). In addition, instructors may not believe that there is much more difficulty
involved in reading college level materials. In the United States United States, officially
United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi
(9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country
in population and the fourth largest country in area. , freshman college students typically
finish the end of their first year with little reading comprehension skills (White, 2004).

These students then need to attend reading classes as well as enroll in assistance labs.
There are many strategies, both in class and at home, to improve reading comprehension
(White, 2004). Instructors can improve comprehension through non-reading related
information such as background knowledge or experiences, homework and class work,
and learning aides (Table 1). Instructors can also teach students how to use other
strategies including the SQ3R method, peer teaching, encoding, and reading flexibility
(Table 1).

Background Knowledge or Experiences

Background knowledge or experiences are non-reading experiences that college

instructors can use to facilitate and maximize student learning new materials. Lectures
are one of the primary teaching modes and have been in existence for a long time.
Although there seems to be conflicting ideas about whether lectures are a successful
method in improving reading comprehension, it has been argued that a "good" lecture can
improve comprehension (Parker, 1993). A good lecture facilitates information processing
information processing: see data processing.
information processing

Acquisition, recording, organization, retrieval, display, and dissemination of information.

Today the term usually refers to computer-based operations. in listeners. In order to give
a good lecture, instructors must be familiar with and know how each of the components
in the information processing model functions (Parker, 1993). The information-
processing model, which was developed by psychologists, gives us the insight into how
human beings process and store information (Parker, 1993). Knowing those components
then gives instructors the ability to transmit information to the student's long-term
memory (Parker, 1993). Lectures can be important when students are being introduced to
a fairly large and cohesive cohesive,
n the capability to cohere or stick together to form a mass. body of knowledge (Parker,
1993). Students can get overwhelmed o·ver·whelm
tr.v. o·ver·whelmed, o·ver·whelm·ing, o·ver·whelms
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.

a. easily with text-based material. Instructor's lectures are an overview of important
information taken out of the text. They are a direct and precise layout of what they want
students to focus on.

Another type of background knowledge or experiences is classroom discussions, which

encourage instructors to engage students in interactions to promote analysis, reflection
and critical thinking (Goldenberg, 1992). Class discussions demand participation from
students and get them involved in what they are learning. Class discussions encourage
thinking, reasoning, and comprehension of important ideas (Goldenberg, 1992). Class
discussions stimulate students to listen and evaluate the material being discussed, giving
them the opportunity to bring up their own thoughts and ideas, which get all students
involved and building on each other's input. These discussions lay the foundation for
what students will be reading, giving them the background knowledge and concepts to
have a clear understanding of what's in the textbook chapter. Class discussions are such a
valuable part of the learning experience that many instructors have advocated for more
frequent use of them (Goldenberg, 1992). Although this is not a new strategy in aiding
reading comprehension, class discussions have been a successful and widely used method
in giving students the skills that are required (Little et al., 2000). Little et al. (2000) use
the reciprocal teaching Reciprocal Teaching is a remedial reading instructional
technique which applies a problem-solving heuristic to the process of reading
comprehension, thereby promoting thinking while reading (Alfassi, 2004). method,
concluding that classroom discussions are an important and clear way to enhance
comprehension skills and strategies.

Although there are many types of instructional media, video instruction is thought to be
important in problem-based learning. Video instruction is able to convey characters,
settings, and action in a more interesting way, as well as can portray por·tray
tr.v. por·trayed, por·tray·ing, por·trays
1. To depict or represent pictorially; make a picture of.

2. To depict or describe in words.

3. To represent dramatically, as on the stage. more complex and interconnected problems

(Choi and Johnson, 2005). Among various tools, the use of instructional technology
There are two types of instructional technology: those with a systems approach, and
those focusing on sensory technologies.

The definition of instructional technology prepared by the Association for Educational

Communications and Technology (AECT) Definitions and Terminology has been
rapidly adopted for the enhancement of interactions and activities. Choi and Johnson
(2005) investigate the potential of a constructivist con·struc·tiv·ism
A movement in modern art originating in Moscow in 1920 and characterized by the use
of industrial materials such as glass, sheet metal, and plastic to create
nonrepresentational, often geometric objects. approach to context-based video
instruction for the purpose of enhancing learning, such as comprehension. There was a
significant difference in learners' motivation in terms of attention between the video-
based instruction and traditional text-based instruction (Choi and Johnson, 2005). Video
instruction is more memorable than the text-based instruction. Video-based instruction
has the ability to transmit information in a way that is more stimulating to students (Choi
and Johnson, 2005). Instructional videos are able to break down difficult contexts making
the material relatively easy to comprehend (Choi and Johnson, 2005). A critical attribute
of video is the ability to use both auditory auditory /au·di·to·ry/ (aw´di-tor?e)
1. aural or otic; pertaining to the ear.

2. pertaining to hearing.

adj. and visual symbol systems (Choi and Johnson, 2005). Videos get students involved
by acting out real situations that students can relate to, and therefore give a clear picture
of what they are trying to convey. Videos have a precise way of describing what could be
confusing or difficult to understand in text alone.

Computer programs seem to be the least explored type of the background knowledge or
experiences. Stephens and Konvalina (1999) use computer algebra algebra, branch of
mathematics concerned with operations on sets of numbers or other elements that are
often represented by symbols. Algebra is a generalization of arithmetic and gains much of
its power from dealing symbolically with elements and operations (such as software to
teach intermediate and college algebra, revealing that the experimental group achieved
substantially higher mean scores than the control group. Many instructors in the science
and math fields use computer programs. Computer programs can aide in the process of
learning by showing a detailed way of solving a problem. Computer programs may
provide teachers with a tool for enhancing teaching and learning in their classrooms (Kim
et al., 2006). These programs have the ability to teach students at their own pace, provide
choices in learning paths, reading passages, reading level options, and encourage a
variety of practice exercises to be used (Kim et al., 2006). Thus, computer-assisted
programs provide students with an interactive learning environment intended to maintain
their interest, while teaching them how to apply comprehension strategies as they read
expository text passages (Kim, et al., 2006). Many students with learning disabilities have
not developed the ability to skillfully skill·ful
1. Possessing or exercising skill; expert. See Synonyms at proficient.

2. Characterized by, exhibiting, or requiring skill. apply comprehension strategies (Kim

et al., 2006). Students have expressed positive results, and felt their reading skills and
comprehension have improved with the assistance of the program (Kim et al., 2006).
There is a significant improvement in their reading comprehension, and computer-
assisted comprehension can be used in aiding to improve reading comprehension in
college courses (Kim et al., 2006).

Providing Homework and Class work

College students should be provided with sufficient homework and class work in order to
help improve reading comprehension in their courses. Critical reading and thinking skills
require active reading (White, 2004). Being active readers mean students have to engage
with the text, both mentally and physically. Students should do the following: skim
ahead, jump back, and highlight the text when they are studying (Sheffield et al., 2005).
They should make specific observations about the text (Sheffield et al., 2005). Students
should skim and scan homework and class work assignments to get the general idea of its
contents (Sherfield et al, 2005). They should pre-view the material prior to actually
reading it. Students should get an overview by getting the "big picture" and by getting the
overall sense of the content of the book.

Instructors should provide class-related topics that are exciting and interesting. The best
instructors tell stories related to topic; when students are taking a quiz or exam, they will
remember the story associated with the lecture to recall the information. Practice
exercises are also essential to improve reading comprehension in college courses.
Practice exercises in class and homework help students to remember the information for
quizzes and final exams. New words appearing in the scripted materials are printed on a
flipchart. In this way, students could see and take careful notice during the discussion of
each new word as it is used in a textbook illustration, and is identified and printed on a
chalkboard. These new words are referred to in the reading activity (Ediger, 2007).

Providing Learning Aide by Instructors

What is the best method of assisting college course material comprehension? The use of
study guides or learning aides have widely been utilized with the general course lecture to
facilitate and maximize student understanding of the course material (Khogali, 2004).
Some of these study guides include quizzes, textbook pedagogical ped·a·gog·ic also
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.

2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner. aides, handouts,

and learning packets. However, there are conflicting research studies on the effectiveness
of such aides in helping college students comprehend course material. The structure of
learning aides should be similar to the course exams for students to show a significant
increase in their exam scores. Also, the use and completion of learning aides provided to
students for course material comprehension should be of a voluntary nature (Gurung,

Study guides are instructional tools that are used to aide students in the acquisition of
content information (Hudson, 1994). Study guides, however, are an independent review
by students of the academic material. Khogali (2004) states that study guides serve as a
powerful tool to help students manage their own learning. Hudson (1994) states that
many students have difficulty reading textbooks and understanding concepts presenting
in the class. In order for these students to comprehend reading material effectively and
efficiently, lecturers should provide guidance with the concepts presented in the assigned
text readings. These learning aides can be used to introduce new content vocabulary,
guide content-specific reading, review newly introduced content concepts, integrate new
content with previously learned content, and practice specific unit skills (Khogali, 2004).
Thus, Study guides assist college students with comprehension of course material.

However, Gurung (2003) has shown that there is no significant positive correlation Noun
1. positive correlation - a correlation in which large values of one variable are associated
with large values of the other and small with small; the correlation coefficient is between
0 and +1
direct correlation between the use of study guides and performance on exams. The study
guides contain outlines, chapter reviews, key terms, practice test questions, online
quizzes Online quizzes are quizzes that are published on the internet and are generally
for entertainment purposes. Introduction
Online quizzes are a popular form of entertainment for web surfers. , group exercises, and
paper assignments (Gurung, 2003). Balch (2001) yields similar results of low correlations
between study aides and course performance. Gurung (2003) concludes that the outcome
is due to assessment methods that do not test the other forms of learning that study aides
provided. Brothen and Wambach (2001) also confirm that online textbook material and
quizzes help students comprehend and master the lecture material do not result in any
significant improvement on student exam scores. Collectively, these researchers believe
that many students have used the quizzes as a quick way to learn the material or
perceived the quizzes simply as a task to complete, rather than an opportunity to guide
their learning.

Despite no significant positive correlation with the use of study guides and student exam
performances, none of the researchers have ruled out study guides as being completely
useless in improving material comprehension. Gurung (2003) have advised that
instructors should provide explicit guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the
performance of certain tasks. on how to use different pedagogical aides because some
students may simply misuse the study guides. Gurung (2003) has cautioned students from
spending too much time on some aides at the expense of studying other important
material or working on understanding the material. Brothen and Wambach (2001) explain
that their research outcome is due to students focused too much on earning a favorable
1. Advantageous; helpful: favorable winds.

2. Encouraging; propitious: a favorable diagnosis.

3. grade on quizzes, not on actually learning the material. Brothen and Wambach (2001)
advise a quiz set-up where students are proctored and encouraged to prepare, gather
feedback from the quiz, and then restudy the material. The Prepare-Gather Freedback-
Restudy theory focuses on the individual learning aspects of students; this voluntary
study focus directs attention away from simply earning grades for the college course to
actually comprehending the reading material (Brothen and Wambach, 2001).

Voluntary study tactics involving textbook quizzes, contrary to a situation in which

students complete a quiz just for credit, have shown positive correlations to higher exam
scores (Grimstad and Grabe, 2004). Students who have taken advantage of the quizzes as
a voluntary study tool have performed consistently better than non-users of the course
examination. Grimstad and Grabe (2004) account the positive correlation to the decrease
in the maladaptive Maladaptive
Unsuitable or counterproductive; for example, maladaptive behavior is behavior that is
inappropriate to a given situation.

Mentioned in: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy behavior of simply looking up quiz

question information in the text to avoid having to retake re·take
tr.v. re·took , re·tak·en , re·tak·ing, re·takes
1. To take back or again.

2. To recapture.

3. To photograph, film, or record again.

1. quizzes. The voluntary aspects of quizzes have allowed students to use quizzes as a
guide to assist in academic material comprehension and exam. Dickson et al.'s (2005)
study supports the effectiveness of study guides in an introductory psychology course that
use multiple-choice exams. Study guides used for the research include activities for
learning objectives, vocabulary, fill-in-the-blank concepts, matching, multiple-choice
questions, short essay questions, and language enhancement (Dickenson et al., 2005).
Students who focus 75% or more of the time on study guide material do not show
significant improvements than those who focus 25% or less (Dickson et al., 2005). Only
selected study guide materials have benefited students in achieving higher exam scores.
The multiple-choice study guide accounted for the improved exam performance due to
the "transfer-appropriate processing theory" (Herrmann, 1993). This theory infers that
retrieval of specific information is improved if the same kind of mental processing is used
during the study of the information (Herrmann, 1993).

Moreover, Dickson et al.'s (2005) study greatly emphasizes the importance of providing
study guides for academic material comprehension. Study guides offer students an
opportunity to use effort in processing and manipulating course material. Completing
study guide exercises also encourage students to apply the information to reality, and to
focus their study efforts on actually understanding the meaning of the material, rather
than mere memorization mem·o·rize
tr.v. mem·o·rized, mem·o·riz·ing, mem·o·riz·es
1. To commit to memory; learn by heart.

2. Computer Science To store in memory: . Study guides also promote student

understanding by providing written explanations to answers and by providing immediate

Using the SQ3R Method

In the mid-1940's, Francis Robinson Professor Francis Christopher Rowland Robinson

is a British academic who was awarded a CBE in 2006 for his his services to higher
education and his research into the history of Islam. developed the SQ3R method of self-
regulated reading (Sheffield, 2005). College students and professionals need a method to
help them become proficient pro·fi·cient
Having or marked by an advanced degree of competence, as in an art, vocation,
profession, or branch of learning.

An expert; an adept. in reading in order to help them learn more effectively. Proficient
reading skills give students the potential to be better selfdirected learners, and therefore
acquire more expertise within their professional fields (Artis, 2008). There are four items
that proficient readers partake of. First, students have a reason for why they are reading
and how they will read. Second, students know their skill process when they read. Third,
students keep track of their reading comprehension. Finally, students use a large
assortment of reading methods for different reading passages (Artis, 2008).

The SQ3R method includes survey, question, read, recite and review (Feldt and Moore,
1999). To survey the reading material, students need to quickly overview the text and
understand the main points and how this information is structured. Using the survey part
of this reading method, students will skim the textbook chapter to see the overall
structure, decide which reading method will be best based upon the headings and view
the larger image of the chapter to understand the reading (Artis, 2008). By knowing what
the textbook chapters are about, students can provide questions to promote critical
thinking skills (Artis, 2008).

During the question phase of the SQ3R reading method, students build questions based
on the surveying they did previously (Feldt and Moore, 1999). These questions are
provided with the intention that they will be answered later on in the reading (Artis,
2008). Through this phase, students should make judgments or predictions at what the
author is trying to convey and understand why this reading segment is relevant to the
overall course purpose. After completing the question phase, student will read the text
actively (Sheffield et al., 2005).

Reading is the most important part of the SQ3R method (Artis, 2008). Students will use
the reading techniques previously chosen through the survey step in order to gain the
most understanding. During the reading step, students must understand each section of
the textbook chapter before moving onto the next portion, and answer questions
throughout the entire reading step (Artis, 2008). Students must also be able to
comprehend the reading assignment and understand the purpose of the reading in the
overall course (Artis, 2008). Students can record notes in the book margins or use a
separate notebook. Recording notes will help students to understand the authors' ideas
and concepts (Artis, 2008).

Understanding these concepts throughout textbook chapters is also justified through the
recite phase (Feldt and Moore, 1999). Immediately, students should reflect on what they
have read, including reciting answers to questions they asked during the survey portion
(Artis, 2008). Students can write their responses by reading review questions and
summary statement, which will help to check their comprehension better (Artis, 2008).

Through review, students can reflect on their reading comprehension and retention (Artis,
2008). Review forces students to reorganize re·or·gan·ize
v. re·or·gan·ized, re·or·gan·iz·ing, re·or·gan·iz·es

To organize again or anew.

To undergo or effect changes in organization. the reading in a way that will make sense
to them personally (Artis, 2008). Students are also able to return to the reading
assignment at a later time, and have the knowledge of the comprehension they have
gained from the reading (Sherfield et al., 2005). They are able to pick up where they left
off much easier. Students reflect on their answers to questions in the reading in the
review step of the SQ3R method (Artis, 2008).

Since the SQ3R method was developed, many similar reading methods have stemmed
1. Having the stems removed.

2. Provided with a stem or a specific type of stem. Often used in combination: stemmed
goblets; long-stemmed roses. from this self-regulated reading method (Artis, 2008).
These include, PQ4R PQ4R Preview, Question Read, Reflect Recite, Review (preview,
question, read, reflect, recite, and review), FAIRER (facts, ask questions, identify major
and minor details, read, evaluate your comprehension, and review), SQ10R (survey,
question, read, reflect, review, repeat, rethink re·think
tr. & intr.v. re·thought , re·think·ing, re·thinks
To reconsider (something) or to involve oneself in reconsideration.

re , reintegrate re·in·te·grate
tr.v. re·in·te·grat·ed, re·in·te·grat·ing, re·in·te·grates
To restore to a condition of integration or unity.

re , rehash re·hash
tr.v. re·hashed, re·hash·ing, re·hash·es
1. To bring forth again in another form without significant alteration: rehashing old ideas.

2. To discuss again. , rewrite re·write

v. re·wrote , re·writ·ten , re·writ·ing, re·writes

1. To write again, especially in a different or improved form; revise.

2. , rehearse re·hearse
v. re·hearsed, re·hears·ing, re·hears·es

a. To practice (a part in a play, for example) in preparation for a public performance.

b. , and reread Verb 1. reread - read anew; read again; "He re-read her letters to him"
read - interpret something that is written or printed; "read the advertisement"; "Have you
read Salman Rushdie?" ), and SQ6R (survey, question, read, reflect, review, rehash,
rethink, and reevaluate) (Artis, 2008). Although the SQ3R has remained the most popular
method, students can also use some of the other similar techniques during their reading
(Artis, 2008).

Using Peer Teaching

Using peer teaching, a small group of college students take turn being the teacher. Peer
teaching has also been called cooperative learning cooperative learning Education theory
A student-centered teaching strategy in which heterogeneous groups of students work to
achieve a common academic goal–eg, completing a case study or a evaluating a QC
problem. See Problem-based learning, Socratic method. (Gourgey, 1998). First, the
group reads a portion of textbook chapter silently, and then the peer teacher asks a
question that may be asked by the actual teacher about what they just read (Gourgey,
1998). The group discusses the reading and assists each other with any questions or
clarification if needed (Gourgey, 1998). The peer teacher makes a guess about what could
be happening next in the text. This process can help students to gain better understanding
of their reading (Ormrod, 2008). The actual teacher of the class starts off the group
discussion and offers much help. Through time, the teacher reduces the assistance that is
given to the group until the group is guiding the entire discussion on their own.

Cooperative learning is designed to help students bring up their own questions about the
reading. They are also distinguishing the more important content of the passage and not
necessarily focusing on the less important and more trivial details (Gourgey, 1998).
Through cooperative learning, students are also able to look at the reading and make
future predictions about what comes next. Cooperative learning has been demonstrated to
be an effective method for improving comprehension (Ormrod, 2008).

Another approach is peer-assisted instruction. This procedure involves two students

taking part in reading and understanding together, bringing about more opportunities for
each student to ask questions they have and to answer questions the other student has
(Ezell et al, 1997). They are able to learn together for understanding the reading
assignment. Students were paired with another student based upon level of achievement
(Ezell et al, 1997). Higher or average performing students are paired with a student who
achieves lower results based upon a pretest pre·test
a. A preliminary test administered to determine a student's baseline knowledge or
preparedness for an educational experience or course of study.

b. A test taken for practice.

2. performance (Ezell et al, 1997). This approach allows students to ask questions about
the assigned reading together in a group (Ezell et al, 1997).


The last of the seven major methods in improving reading comprehension in college
courses involves improving the encoding process while reading academic material. In this
article, the two major techniques of improving encoding are the use of outlines and
concept mapping. Both techniques involve the use of meaningful learning that interrelate
tr. & intr.v. in·ter·re·lat·ed, in·ter·re·lat·ing, in·ter·re·lates
To place in or come into mutual relationship.

in existing relevant knowledge in the mental structure to the acquisition of new

information. Research studies have shown that the use of an outline and the
implementation of concept mapping have shown positive correlations to improved
reading comprehension (Ormrod, 2008).

Outlining or concept mapping material reveals significant positive correlations with

reading comprehension (White, 2004). Glynn and DiVesta (1977) explain that what is
learned from textual materials depends upon students' acquired knowledge, the
organization of this knowledge in the knowledge structure, and the manner and degree of
processing the new material. Structurally, the use of an outline presents the visual
organization of a textbook that function to prepare readers for identification of major
topics and relevant information within the text. This identification leads to meaningful
storage of new material in long-term memory (Glynn and DiVesta, 1977). The outline
serves as a guide for facilitating information retrieval information retrieval

Recovery of information, especially in a database stored in a computer. Two main

approaches are matching words in the query against the database index (keyword
searching) and traversing the database using hypertext or hypermedia links. by providing
specific cues that are applied during the learning experience (Ormrod, 2008). Instructors
are, therefore, recommended to provide chapter outlines with main and subheadings of
the academic text material. Students should be assigned the duty of completing the
outline, filling the headings with notes and detailing information to further connect the
outline to the main text (Glynn and DiVesta, 1977).

Concept mapping is a schematic A graphical representation of a system. It often refers to

electronic circuits on a printed circuit board or in an integrated circuit (chip). See logic
gate and HDL. tool that allows college students to graphically represent their knowledge
(Hill, 2004; Ormrod, 2008). The concept map graphically depicts an inclusive main
concept to which connections to several other general concepts are shown by overarching
1. Forming an arch overhead or above: overarching branches.

2. Extending over or throughout: "I am not sure whether the missing ingredient . . . and
lines of direct and indirect relationships (Hill, 2004). Chiou (2008) explains that concept
mapping also shows hierarchical relationships (Fig. 1). The ideas and concepts include
several graphic branches to which hierarchical structures are formed. The network of
concepts moves downward to show differences in main to more specific concepts (Chiou,
2008). Concept mapping helps students diagram their knowledge of key concepts, and
demonstrates their understanding of relationships among them (Fig. 1). Cross-links are
also formed to connect two distinct segments of the concept hierarchy (Fig. 1). The use of
cross-links serves as an important integrative function on the concept map (Choiu, 2008).
The concept mapping technique encourages learning in an active method that effectively
improves long-term retention of new knowledge (Ormrod, 2008). Concept mapping
effectively encodes new information to long-term cognitive structures by integrating new
information to prior knowledge structures (Hill, 2004). The "Cognitive Learning Theory"
emphasizes that the brain learns most effectively by relating new knowledge to prior
knowledge, and that meaningful learning requires effort to link new knowledge with
more inclusive concepts in a person's cognitive structure (Hill, 2004). In this regard,
concept mapping is an effective learning tool for college students who have more
complex experiences and more accumulations of knowledge than much younger-aged
students who are juvenile in their academic endeavors (Hill, 2004). The concept mapping
technique can reveal reading comprehension by students in college courses by the
organization of their knowledge, understanding of the relationships of various concepts
and propositions, and the display of creativity used to integrate additional concepts (Hill,

Hill (2004) explains that the concept mapping assignment has helped many college
students to appreciate the breath and depth of their learning. However, Hill (2004) notes
that over 50% of the college students have enjoyed the assignment and have found it
useful in organizing their ideas, retaining information and relating course material to
other knowledge. However, other students have reported the technique challenging and
have showed uncertainty in using a new learning tool. Concept mapping introduces a
different way for students to learn that can be time-consuming, and can bring uneasiness
and unfamiliarity to some. However, rewards of a concept mapping are that it can help
college students comprehend abstract material, integrate other learning with new
material, and engage them in understanding conceptual material, so that students are
challenged to move beyond straight memorization to meaningful learning (Hill, 2004).

Moreover, concept mapping can also benefit college instructors in identifying any student
misconceptions Misconceptions is an American sitcom television series for The WB
Network for the 2005-2006 season that never aired. It features Jane Leeves, formerly of
Frasier, and French Stewart, formerly of 3rd Rock From the Sun. and improvements in
student understanding of course material (Chiou, 2008). Since the concept map allows
learning concepts of students to be drawn graphically, the concept map can be an
insightful tool for instructors to use in assisting students in evaluation and application of
concept comprehension.

Teaching Reading Flexibility

College students need to be guided through the course information. Students must be
given a purpose for reading the passage of information, their thinking needs to be
stimulated, their curiosity needs to be aroused, and they need to be assisted with major
concepts and vocabulary (White, 2004). Students must learn to adjust their speed and
style of reading to their reading objectives and the type of materials to be read (White,
2004). Some reading materials can be scanned, skimmed skim
v. skimmed, skim·ming, skims

a. To remove floating matter from (a liquid).

b. To remove (floating matter) from a liquid.

c. through, and read lightly, while others must read closely and critically. Frequently, a
combination of various reading methods is desirable or necessary. College instructors can
give students insight on how to identify which materials to use for different types or
reading speeds and styles (White, 2004).

Educational Implications

College instructors have noticed that modern computer technology is starting to affect
different reading methods, and providing new means for improving reading
comprehension. Modern technology will have a large impact on student learning and how
instructors provide enhancement materials. Many textbooks are starting to offer
pedagogical and learning aides online. Some educational companies and organizations
have begun to integrate the textbook material with online resources and applications to
facilitate student learning. This advancement in providing methods of improving reading
comprehension will need research and experiments for relationship studies.

In addition, instructors found that many recent research studies have shown the
importance of possessing a large vocabulary in order to understand college-level
textbooks. Many professional journal articles dealing with reading comprehension
discuss how helpful it is to understand the meaning of many words. Because vocabulary
is crucial in relating to relating to relate prep → concernant

relating to relate prep → bezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc what college students are
reading, future research studies are required to further investigate this interesting and
practical topic.

The following collected frm: http://www.academon.com

A review of the importance of teaching reading and comprehension and how to

successfully teach these skills.
Written in 2006; 3,522 words; 21 sources; MLA; $ 98.95
Paper Summary:

This paper attempts to analyze the best possible practices to improve the reading and
comprehension of students, particularly elementary school students. This paper identifies
the characteristics of elementary students and categorizes the different approaches used
when teaching elementary students reading and comprehension.

Purpose of the Study
Significance of the Study
Research and Plan Solution Strategy
The Teachers
Additional Time
High-Quality Research Based Curriculum and Instruction
Phonemic Awareness
Other Important Instructional Methods
Preschool and Early Literacy Opportunities
Implementation Plan and Matrix
Evaluation/Assessment Plan

From the Paper:

"There has been much debate about phonics instruction. However, recent research has
given phonics another look and has determined phonic instruction is needed
(Hempenstall, 2002). Students that master phonics will have the decoding process in hand
and can focus on building fluency and comprehension. Use direct, systematic explicit
phonics instruction as a primary component of a reading program. CIEA states,
"Systematic instruction includes a carefully selected set of letter-sound relationships that
are organized into a logical sequence, and explicit are programs that provide teachers
with specific directions for the teaching of these relationship" (Hempenstall, 2002). The
issue is not whether to use phonics or whole language in reading instruction. "Rather, the
issue is how phonics is used; as a primary component of a reading program, as well as
when we use phonics; at the beginning reading level" (Hempenstall, 2002).

A discussion of how to increase reading comprehension of students in middle school.

Written in 2007; 1,722 words; 11 sources; APA; $ 55.95
Paper Summary:

This paper addresses the problem of weak reading skills in middle school students, and
suggests educational approaches to improving reading comprehension in particular. The
author recommends that teachers, the instructional and/or educational materials and the
educational policies should be at the forefront in assisting middle school children to
acquire the reading comprehension skills they need. The role of each is described in the
paper. Additionally, accommodations are recommended for children with special
educational needs. The paper also lists the five essential components of reading
instruction, describing the importance of each one. The paper concludes by stating
students also take responsibility for their reading progress by practicing regularly.

Review of Related Literature
Factors to increasing the reading comprehension abilities of the middle graders
The Teachers
Provision of More time for the Students
Maintenance of Research Based Curriculum and Instructional Approaches Regarding
Reading Comprehension
Reference List

From the Paper:

"Indeed, there have been recent studies conducted which reveal that reading and
comprehension is becoming a challenging tasks for the teachers, particularly when they
are handling the students from the middle grades. Students who are in the in their middle
age of learning are already being taught for proper reading and comprehension. However,
there are reports that show that there are increasing number of students who have gone to
higher levels but "are still not fully equipped with the right reading and comprehension
perspectives," thus a big task to teachers and other educational facilitators nowadays is
how to increase the reading comprehension of students in the middle school (Snow,